Weekly Jobless Claims Continue Downward Trend at 547,000, Lowest in Over a Year

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The weekly number of unemployment claims continued its encouraging decrease last week, reflecting the reopening of the economy and exceeding analysts’ expectations.

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For the week ending April 17, the weekly number of unemployment claims fell to 547,000, a decrease of 39,000 from the previous week’s revised level, according to the Labor Department. This is the lowest level for initial claims since March 14, 2020 when it was 256,000. The previous week’s average was revised up by 10,000 from 576,000 to 586,000.

Economists expected  workers to file for 603,000 initial unemployment claims last week, according to The Wall Street Journal.

To put these figures in context, pre-pandemic, first-time unemployment benefit filers had typically numbered only about 225,000 weekly. For example, for the week ending Feb. 29, 2020, the figure stood at 217,000 claims, according to Labor Department data. However, for the week ending April 18, 2020, claims stood at an eye-popping 4,202,000.

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“We’re still pretty deep into the hole created by the pandemic,” said Daniel Zhao, senior economist at jobs website Glassdoor, according to The Wall Street Journal. “But at the same time, there is more optimism now than at any other point in the pandemic.”

The reopening of the economy, boosted by the vaccine acceleration, an easing of restrictions and the stimulus checks, is also reflected in other recent economic factors. Last week, the Commerce Department reported that retail sales surged a whopping 9.8% in March.

“It’s no surprise that retail sales numbers are strong this month. With the vaccine rollout continuing and the economy in a better place, consumers are more willing to spend on goods — both in stores and through ecommerce channels, which continues to grow,” Margo Kahnrose, chief marketing officer of marketing intelligence company Kenshoo, told GOBankingRates last week.

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About the Author

Yaël Bizouati-Kennedy is a former full-time financial journalist and has written for several publications, including Dow Jones, The Financial Times Group, Bloomberg and Business Insider. She also worked as a vice president/senior content writer for major NYC-based financial companies, including New York Life and MSCI. Yaël is now freelancing and most recently, she co-authored  the book “Blockchain for Medical Research: Accelerating Trust in Healthcare,” with Dr. Sean Manion. (CRC Press, April 2020) She holds two master’s degrees, including one in Journalism from New York University and one in Russian Studies from Université Toulouse-Jean Jaurès, France.

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